Those Florida State fans that started chanting “Bring on ‘Bama” during the Seminoles’ dismantling of Miami a week ago may get their wish.
Florida State was the big winner on Thursday, taking hold of the No. 2 spot in the BCS standings when No. 3 Oregon was upset by Stanford, 26-20. The Ducks’ loss will ended the flip-flopping between FSU and Oregon for the second spot in the BCS standings behind No. 1 Alabama.
Alabama and Florida State become the favorites to meet for the national championship on Jan 6 in Pasadena, Calif.
FSU coach Jimbo Fisher has preached the same message since the Seminoles (8-0, 6-0 ACC) started their climb up the polls: “It doesn’t mean anything right now.” And he certainly will continue to remind his team the time to occupy one of the top two spots in the BCS is Dec. 8, the day after the season ends.
“We’ve evolved, and hopefully we can learn and continue to evolve,” Fisher said. “You have to try and get better and better to get where we are trying to go.”
The only way to get there is to sweep the final four regular season games — starting Saturday at Wake Forest, (noon, ABC) where FSU is a 35-point favorite — and then capture its second consecutive ACC title on Dec. 7.
FSU clinches a spot in the ACC Championship Game with a victory against the Demon Deacons (4-5, 2-4 ACC).
The difference now is the Seminoles do not have to worry about style points or their opponents building their résumés (as of Saturday none of their remaining four opponents in the regular season had a winning record). Florida State will be a solid No. 2 over unbeaten teams like Ohio State and Baylor for the same reason No. 3 Oregon was expected to jump the Seminoles once again if it defeated No. 5 Stanford — strength of schedule.
Florida State just breezed through the most difficult four-game stretch of the season by crushing No. 25 Maryland, No. 3 Clemson and No. 7 Miami by a combined score of 155-28.
“Our mindset is the same every week,” freshman quarterback Jameis Winston said. “We’re going to prepare the same. We’re going to practice the same and hopefully be better as the week goes on. It’s just going to be the same week for us.”
Stanford’s victory over Oregon likely will propel Winston to the lead in what has become a three-man competition for the Heisman Trophy. Winston was running just behind Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and ahead of Texas A@M’s Johnny Manziel in the race, according to most prognosticators.
But Mariota was not sharp on Thursday and his inability to get Oregon into the end zone in the first three quarters will cost him. He finished 20-of-34 for 250 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions while trying to rally Oregon from a 26-0 fourth quarter deficit.
If the Seminoles are looking for any tidbit of motivation, they need to look at their last trip to Wake Forest. They entered as a heavy favorite despite having lost consecutive games to Oklahoma and Clemson. Wake then pulled off the upset, 35-30, giving the Seminoles their only three-game losing streak in the Fisher era.
Florida State is 27-3 since that loss.
“That was a lack of focus on our part,” senior linebacker Telvin Smith said. “But that’s one thing I don’t worry about with this team. I don’t have the same feeling going into the game with this team.”
Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe knows the task at hand. After winning 28 games from 2006-08, the Demon Deacons are headed toward a fifth consecutive losing season.
“This is one of those weeks where if you’re going to have any chance at all you can’t have any of the three areas not play good,” Grobe said.
That was made more difficult when Michael Campanaro, the program’s all-time leading receiver and the ACC leader with 8.4 catches per game, was lost for about month when he broke his collarbone in last week’s loss to Syracuse.
“It’s going to be an issue for us,” Grobe said. “I don’t see another Campanaro out there on the horizon. Where we are right now we’re going to have try to spread the ball out a little bit. We were spoiled. We would sit in that room and try to find ways to get the ball to Campanaro. I don’t see that we have anybody of that mindset that we would want to get the ball to him every play.”